An altar is a sacred space to perform ceremonies and rituals. A personal altar is often attuned to his/her energy and intent. But what exactly is it and its "magickal" purpose? The altar is very significant to your rituals; your central focus is there. No matter where you perform your rituals and meditations; nature's ground, a wooden stool, or an eloquent table, this is where you honour life, cleanse and charge your tools, and work YOUR magick!
What is an Altar?
Well, by definition alone, according to Webster, an Altar is:
a usually raised structure or place on which sacrifices are offered or incense is burned in worship —often used figuratively to describe a thing given great or undue precedence or value especially at the cost of something else <sacrificed his family life on the altar of career advancement>
a table on which the Eucharistic elements are consecrated or which serves as a center of worship or ritual
In its simplest form, an altar is a flat surface where you place your ceremonial items, particularly in a ritualistic manner. An altar is a central place of personal meditation; a sacred place in which you cast your spells, harness energy, and give your offerings.
What is an Altar made of?
That can be a tricky question. As, by the definition, an altar is the "...flat surface..." therefore, it stands to reason that anything flat can be an altar! From Mother Earth's natural ground, to a piece of furniture created for the sole intent of an altar and everything in between.
Traditionally, an altar is made from wood as it is an easily accessible, natural substance. However, the surface can be made of glass, stone, marble, etc. The material used is only important, if it is important to you.
Where do I place an Altar?
Your altar can be placed anywhere, there is no right or wrong location. However, you should take care to make sure it’s a place where you are comfortable and can obtain focus. This can be a special table that is just for your alter such as a coffee table, nightstand, etc. Other household items that work could be a foot locker, window sill, breakfast bar, etc. Your an "outdoor" person? Use a patio table, flagstone, even a flat area on the ground will work! Be sure to place an altar cloth first if you are using a surface that is not dedicated as your altar. [We will study altar cloths in our next section: Altar Tools]